Why this is cool:
- Corporations like Sprint and Coca-Cola are repurposing space to be used as a coworking space for their workers and the public. It starts as a way to give back to their local community.
- Local entrepreneurs and remote workers use the space to collaborate on new businesses, learn, and make new connections.
- Corporate workers are hesitant at first to cowork at the space but find the location change and community inspiring and this increases their creativity.
- It becomes a reciprocal beneficiary relationship where locals have a supportive community and corporations have an environment where innovation and company morale increase.
- This can be duplicated throughout the world to drive innovation and support local economies.
Large established companies need to keep experimenting to have fresh products in the market and attract top talent. Earlier this month at the Global Coworking Conference, two of the largest corporations in America, Coca-Cola and Sprint, shared how starting a coworking space was benefiting to their community and their workers. In the last year both companies started to invite local entrepreneurs, freelancers, and others to their coworking space at or near their headquarters to be a catalyst for their local economies and innovations.
In Kansas City, Sprint was supporting the local TechStars Accelerator and had an amazing empty space that they knew could have a bigger impact if it was repurposed, even if it wasn’t permanent. When the TechStars crew aren’t using the space for their 90-day program, the public, government officials, and Sprint employees are encouraged to make the space their work clubhouse. The General Manager of the Sprint space describes “Whether it’s our network or a physical space, as a corporation we have an opportunity to take big resources and repurpose them for the community.” Matthew Marcus, one of the partners and Kansas City Startup Village leader, explained that the place brings the great companies from the suburbs and entrepreneurs downtown to collide their ideas. ‘We need to get people out of their bubbles.’
Coca-Cola wants to be one of those companies. And being a part of this revolution means learning from and collaborating with others.
Coca-Cola had the same great idea about the same time and encouraged their teams to cowork at their newly designed space. At the Global Coworking Conference, Coca-Cola representatives described that people were very uncomfortable at first and some felt forced to change their behavior by coworking. It didn’t take long before employees started to realize the benefits of being in a shared space with people outside of Coke and their own divisions. The overheard conversations and cross pollination of ideas by coworkers helped Coke workers understand what’s happening outside the coke world. This idea exercise makes everyone more creative and engaged.
Coke also loves their hometown and is always looking for new ways to be part of the Atlanta community. By opening up their space they can help local entrepreneurs learn from each other and their historical 127 year past. This forum of community engagement is a new and exciting departure from the local foundations and sponsorships that many corporations do. It’s a hands on approach that is an on-going engagement and gift to Atlanta.
What’s most exciting? Hundreds of others corporations can do this.
I love this form of corporate/community involvement to drive innovation and support local entrepreneurs and mobile workers. Many small agencies or software development shops have started coworking spaces (74% of coworking spaces were started by people involved in another company) but the idea coming to larger corporations is a new and exciting trend.
This being said, I don’t encourage every company with extra space to start a coworking space. We’ve seen too many entrepreneurs hang a sign on the door and create a coworking space destined to fail. Coca-Cola and Sprint did it with the intention of having their workers involved and studied many communities to learn what works, what the community wants, and how they can best co-exist. It would be a shame to see corporations do it halfway and declare it a failure in a few months. With that in mind there are hundreds or more companies that could execute a similar plan to create a small and exciting ecosystem.
As a Denver resident, I can think of a dozen companies that could and would love to help support a coworking community to help transform Denver’s economy while learning ways to improve their products and better understand their customers. The corporations in the area, CenturyLink,Dish Network , Mapquest and many others already have a been active supports of the community and reaped many benefits. Opening up their doors and creating a shared space for their communities and workers would not only reinforce their values but propel them to be more innovative and faster competitors.
This post is orginally from the personal blog of Creative Density’s owner and coworking consultant, CraigBaute.com